Q: My Easter lily is blooming now in November. I planted the bulb after it finished blooming and kept the rabbits away all summer. I covered it on cold nights this fall, and it's flowering. — Karen Westrick, Fargo. A: Thanks for showing a successful rebloom of your lily. All plants, including potted Easter lilies, other florist plants and houseplants can all be traced to outdoor native habitat somewhere on earth. The gleaming, pure white characteristics of Lily longiflorum made it a natural to represent Easter.
No one can say I don't know how to select romantic Christmas gifts. Let's keep this a secret, but I just bought Mary a new four-tined pitchfork of her very own, so we can share some husband-wife quality time turning the compost pile. The family that mulches together stays together. Now for a discrete way to wrap a pitchfork. I might be kidding about Mary's gift, but Christmas shopping for gardeners is easy. Anyone who enjoys plants, yardwork or other gardening activities will appreciate receiving gifts related to their favorite pastime.
We're home. After 120 days of living in motel rooms, with a final stay in our daughter's basement, Mary and I, along with our youngest two sons, moved back home last week. Thank you to all who asked about the progress of moving our home to its new location to make room for Fargo's flood protection. The house traveled well without mishap, and now the 122-year-old home sits on a new lot. There are many steps to moving a house, many of them invisible. Luckily, the fall weather was tremendous. Gravel driveways were installed just last week, and topsoil was spread after that. We were hoping to start landscaping, do some planting and seed the lawn, but it'll have to wait until spring because additional dirt work is needed.
Q: My Christmas cactus is blooming very early. Someone told me it might be a Thanksgiving cactus. Is there such a thing, and what is the difference? — Bev Hildor, Alexandria, Minn. A: Many of the "Christmas" cacti that are blooming now are really Thanksgiving cacti. The Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus are two distinct, but closely related species. Their flowers look much the same and are available in various shades of pink, rose-pink, pastel lavender and white. Besides Thanksgiving cacti blooming earlier, there's an easy way to tell them apart.
Have you ever been in a group where everyone is knowledgeable about a topic except you? It's difficult to join the conversation, and it's not much fun. I never want anyone to feel they don't have enough experience or knowledge to join the plant-care conversation. After all, I'm a good participant because if I can do something, anyone can, including growing houseplants.
Q: Here are several photos of mums growing in my landscape. They've survived two winters so far. I'm not sure what kinds they are. — Beverly Ames Shy, Belle Fourche, S.D. A: Thanks for sending the photos of mums. They show how beautifully mums can be grown in perennial flowerbeds and landscapes, rather than just enjoyed as potted mums on doorsteps. Even though mums aren't a long-lived perennial in the way peonies are, they are well worth a little work.
Can you choose which of your children you like best? I can't pick favorites in plants either, since I've rarely met one I didn't like. My wife, Mary, will be a candidate for sainthood because she patiently contends with all the strays I bring home. Presently, the kitchen table is filled with geraniums brought in from outdoors. Can't let them freeze, you know.
Q. I thought you might be interested in photos of some carrots that have gone to seed in my garden. I've never had carrots do this before and decided I would leave the flowers and harvest the seeds for next year's garden.—John Peterson, Fargo
Friend Bill recently repeated humor heard during drought years about it being so dry two trees were fighting over a dog. Luckily this year's fall rains have been plentiful in much of the region, giving plants good moisture heading into winter. Watering before freeze-up during dry spells is included on the following checklist of final tasks to prepare yard and garden for winter.
Q: I believe I heard you say something on the radio about not being able to get potted mums established outside. Did I hear correctly, and can you elaborate? I enjoy the perennial fall color of mums and would like to grow them in my yard. — Brant Bigger, Fargo A: It is very difficult to get potted mums established outdoors if they're planted in the fall. Mums, short for chrysanthemums, are one of the best fall-blooming perennials and can be grown successfully in this region with a few guidelines.